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Don’t Shoot to Kill – Shoot to Survive

704730_55501400If you have been taught that in a self defense situation you should shoot to kill you have been misled. Firearms in the hands of sheepdogs and good people are meant to save lives, not take them away. Your objective when using them for self defense is to stop the threat. As I put it recently in a course of advanced students… first survive; then help others survive.

Perhaps you have been led to believe that if you don't shoot the bad guy they will survive to file a lawsuit against you. Two problems with this idea. First, so what? Is your money worth more than their life? Second, if you kill them their family will sue you anyway. Trust me, if you shoot someone you are going to face a lawsuit regardless if they die or not. Ask OJ Simpson about it.

Law enforcement officers are trained to first stop threats and then to administer first aid to all including those who they may have just fired upon. That is because they understand that they do not shoot to kill or shoot to take life, but always seek to save it. This is why even the best gun laws support the preservation of life with the use of deadly force. Taking life can only ethically be justified in order to preserve life.

If you ever wonder if you could really pull the trigger remember that you aren't shooting to take a life. You shoot in order to save lives. That is all the clarity and justification you will ever need.

Forget what anyone else may have told you. Your objective is not to kill, but to live. Your plan is not to take life but to save it.

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15 Responses to Don’t Shoot to Kill – Shoot to Survive

  1. Mike Forella February 17, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    1. OJ Simpson was a murderer – he did not act in self-defense.
    2. You ALWAYS shoot to kill – you have a God-given right and duty to defend yourselves and loved ones even unto bloodshed (Alma 43:47).
    3. Yes, my money (and any potential victim’s money) is WAY more important than the life of some would-be rapist, sex offender, kidnapper, or murderer. So, eliminate the suing threat as well. As far as the family of the above mentioned scumbags go – they can attempt to sue, but they would never get my money by court order or anything. If I would have to evacuate every cent out of my bank account and hide and guard it, then so be it. In reality, if they sued me, the families of the said hypothetical above-mentioned scumbags would not only never see a cent of my money, but would be losing the same amount of money for which they sued me plus 1/5 after I counter-sued them – I guarantee it. If one tries to steal from me, they can prepare for the consequences.
    4. Stop spreading these bleeding-heart liberal lies under the guise of some 2A supporter (such as “so what? you think your money is more important than their life?”). It is sickening. If you truly believe such a lie, then you are in the wrong field of work.
    5. You are shooting to kill to save the lives of the potential victims, and save the perpetrator from himself/herself. Bloodshed is necessary/required for certain offenses. If you save the sicko’s life then guess what? He/she will only come after you to get revenge, and I do not mean via a lawsuit. Trying to save their life or let them live is the most dangerous thing a person can do.

    • Jacob Paulsen February 17, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

      Mike, thanks for your comments. Your thoughts are valuable and appreciated.

      • Doug February 17, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

        This old jarheads credo is simply this: ” kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out..”

    • Ron May 28, 2016 at 9:51 am #

      Mike, if you ever do have to shoot to stop somebody, you better pray that the prosecutor doesn’t discover this post.

  2. Mike Forella February 17, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    I hope people read this and are not deceived by this bleeding-heart liberal crap.

  3. Heidi February 17, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Yes I’m prepared to defend myself & loved ones, but “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.

    • RAF February 19, 2015 at 1:50 am #


      The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” doesn’t mean to never kill. If “Thou Shalt Not Kill” meant to never kill, ever, even if you feel it’s justified, and to do so would make you a murderer, then wouldn’t all the wars be damning practically everyone who participated in them to an unforgivable state, even the ones God basically commanded to happen, since murder is one of the unforgivable sins?

      From a religions standpoint, based off of either the Bible or BoM, this commandment is further defined to never kill in cold blood. Here is just one Bible example of such:

      Matthew 5: 21-22:
      “21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

      22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

      There are also examples throughout these books that suggest that there are circumstances where killing is necessary in preserving your way of life, such as God telling the Israelites to kill certain groups of people because they were murderers, thieves, whores – basically living a life fit for the Devil himself.

      However, this doesn’t mean we HAVE to kill. We have every right to protect our way of life. How you do it is completely up to you. Being passive doesn’t make you a bad person and not wanting anything to do with killing someone is your right and choice, one that others should never ridicule. After all, isn’t that what agency is all about? The right and privilege to choose and act for ourselves? Should you ever change your mind, let me point out another Biblical reference to help cement the idea that should we need to use deadly force to protect our way of life, God does give us the right to do so:

      Exodus 22: 2
      ” 2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.”

      In some cultures they believed and exacted judgement on those who killed with blood for blood. Meaning, you kill someone, the only way you can repay the debt, is with your own life. This is what this passage is referring to. If someone breaks into your home, and the defensive measures you use to protect your life, causes the intruder to lose theirs, then it was justified and there is no debt to be owed.

    • Larry May 28, 2016 at 8:56 am #

      Some translate that to thou shall not murder. Which is the better translation, I don’t know. There is a big difference between murder and kill.

  4. Kal February 17, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

    I agree with you, although you will get slammed by bloodthirsty 2nd Amendment absolutists.

    I’ll go even further and say the normal load should be FMJ, not an expanding bullet designed to do maximum damage and completely destroy limbs and organs.

    Also a modest .380ACP or 9mm, not a hand-cannon.

    Some countries restrict private handgun ownership to six-shot revolvers in modest calibers. This is enough for legitimate home/personal defense.

    Unfortunately, in the USA, we can’t reach a reasonable compromise in the gun debate. This is the fault of both 2nd Amendment absolutists, AND anti-gun nuts whose aim is to progressively extinguish all handgun ownership and self-protection rights.

    So we’re stuck…

    • RAF February 19, 2015 at 2:17 am #

      Kal – “I’ll go even further and say the normal load should be FMJ, not an expanding bullet designed to do maximum damage and completely destroy limbs and organs.” — Are you specifically pointing your fingers at Shotgun? If so, you realize that the AR-15, while uses a FMJ, the bullet can fragment right? It actually happens more than people think, and in ways can act like a shot gun upon flesh impact.

      I will say this however: Regardless of what ends up happening to our right to arm ourselves by way of Gun bans, or ammunition bans… People will always find ways to circumvent the law. You take one thing out of the mix, people will replace it with something else, often times even deadlier.

  5. Jacob Paulsen February 19, 2015 at 1:59 am #

    Great thoughts here from everyone. I don’t see any issue with taking a life in order to stop a threat that one deems worthy of stopping by any means necessary. Where I get hung up is in the idea that too many of us feel (or at least articulate) that the primary objective of the use of force is to kill. This is where I disagree. I feel the primary objective is to stop the threat… even if that requires killing. All things said I always hope I will not have to kill or that in my use of force to stop a threat I will not have killed another.

    I realize that doesn’t fully address some of your comments but perhaps it clarifies my feelings a little.

    • RAF February 19, 2015 at 2:34 am #

      Jacob – that ideal isn’t a wrong one to have either. It really comes down to a psychological thing. Generally in high stress situations, especially ones where there’s a armed intruder, you’ll try to do what you’re trained to do.

      However, that doesn’t always play out perfectly because most people actually become so frantic, so scared, that they stop thinking clearly and their judgement becomes clouded. Subconsciously you’ll still have that idea “shoot to kill” running through your mind – and it might actually happen, but it might be to someone that’s not the intruder, say.. a family member that unknowingly crept up on you and scared you even more.

      If the intruder actually wasn’t armed, and say… was your friendly neighbor who saw your door open and something seemed a little off – what happens when your shoot to kill mentality actually harms an innocent? Although it’s a hypothetical situation, it’s something to think about.

      Also to note: I remember you saying some time ago that most of the “armed” intruders aren’t even armed at all. This is where shooting them can quickly become a very dark gray area.

  6. tacticaliron February 24, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    Be careful what you say to friends, family co-workers and especially what you post on the internet.

    More wisdom for the mindset of shooting to stop an attack rather than shoot to kill is that your own relatives and friends won’t come back and say in court:

    “Oh yes, I heard Bob So-and-so say many times he would shoot to kill.”

    You think the District Attorney isn’t going to throw that to the jury? If pulling a firearm stops the attack… then you have survived and that’s what matters. There is a big difference in the eyes of the law of shooting to stop an attack or shooting to make sure someone is dead.

    One is self-defense and one is an execution. Has nothing to do with Liberal philosophy it has to do with going to jail for life or being a free person to be with your family.

    If the only way to stop an attack is indeed to shoot the attacker until he stops attacking you or a third party then you have to prove it in court. Likely both Civil and Criminal. And whether you are proven guilty or innocent that attorney representing you will still cost you $10,000 just to start.

    Most people in the self-defense industry understand this and don’t want their students to face a court unnecessarily…. as indeed they don’t want to either. If shooting and wounding an attacker stops the attack then again you have SURVIVED and stopped the attack.

    Don’t forget that some people survive headshots, shots to the center mass etc and some die from being shot in the arm. Don’t get into that narrow view of “shooting to kill” its a recipe for disaster. Just as much as the school of thought “I’ll fire a warning shot first” is dangerous.

    Zimmerman proved to a jury that he shot to defend himself and that he didn’t commit murder. How much money did it cost? How much better is his life now than before? He will be in the media spotlight forever, and many people judge that he is guilty regardless of the outcome of his trial. If you are hell bent on shooting to kill 100% of the time, you are in for a downhill trip. In most states you can use “Reasonable Force” or an “Appropriate” amount of force to stop an attack when you fear for your life and certain elements are in play.

    Those who refuse to understand the law can still be deeply affected by it. Read some books on Justified Use of Force. Even police have to follow the law when they use force.

  7. Keith Fisher February 25, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    On the point of using FMJ bullets. As I tell my students, the real purpose of using a hollow point bullet, is so that the bullet expands, slows down, ans does not exit the criminal’s body and travel further where it may strike someone else. Regarding the AR-15 using a FMJ bullet, you are talking about a bullet traveling at over 3000 feet per second, way faster than the fastest of any handgun round. That makes all the difference in the world. If you think that you are shooting to kill…Just say so in court and see what happens. I fully agree with Jacob.

  8. Ron May 28, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    Practice often, to make sure you can hit a six inch circle at twenty feet. Then, if you have to shoot somebody, put two hollowpoints right in the middle of his chest. Get that second one in there fast, because he might already be starting to go down after the first one. You want both bullet angles to be consistent with a person standing upright.

    After the bad guy is stopped, ensure the area is secure. You are worried that there might be an accomplice. The situation will have to determine what you do about any accomplice. It will be necessary to leave the b.g. bleeding out or drowning in blood while you check the area for safety, but unfortunately that can’t be avoided.

    Once you’re certain that the area is secure, then call 911 and request medical help for a gunshot wound. If some anti-gun prosecutor takes you to court for the shooting, this action will be the second most valuable thing on your side. The first is that shooting in self defense was the only way to stop the b.g. Emphasize only way.

    Don’t have the gun in your hand when the police arrive. You’ll get shot. Don’t make any statement to the police except that you were afraid for your life and you just wanted to stop him. Let your attorney do the talking for you.

    You use hollowpoints for safety. The likelihood is that a solid bullet will exit the b.g. and strike a bystander. You will not have the luxury of time to maneuver so that the line of fire behind the b.g. is clear. If you have to shoot, you have to shoot fast.


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